Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Labour, Delyn 8:15 pm, 3rd April 2019

I accept fully what my hon. Friend says. The Leader of the Opposition has this very afternoon met the Prime Minister in Downing Street, at her request, along with my right hon. and learned Friend Keir Starmer, to set out positions on a customs union and a single market, and potentially even a confirmatory vote, for the Prime Minister to consider. The Bill does not fix a particular debate, which provides the flexibility needed to give time for that process. The amendments, which I have only had a cursory look at, fix dates of 30 June and 22 May.

I recognise that there is a problem: the European elections are the elephant in the room. When I was the Minister of State for Northern Ireland, we regularly passed legislation to establish or not establish elections in the Northern Ireland Assembly within a day or two days. The Prime Minister is going to the European Council on 10 April to discuss what the House has decided. The House may well decide that this Bill should have an open date, or we can fetter that discussion by putting a date in place. I want to give the Prime Minister the maximum flexibility.